While there are interesting, near-forgotten cemeteries tucked away in Durham, I am referring to the remnants of houses past. I've had a couple of questions/comments about research, and one part of that research is 'on the ground.' Looking at the urban landscape, you can often find clues demonstrating where houses were located, and the pattern of the earlier landscape.
When houses were large and destroyed in an iterative way (rather than a large clearance project like urban renewal) you can still see significant demarcation of where the houses were. In this view of the east side of the 300 block of Morris St., you can see the steps, as well as the small concrete property line 'retaining wall' with small 'posts' at the steps and the property lines. From this you can gauge the size and spacing of the houses on the street. So while I know of no pictures of these houses, I can begin to put together a mental picture of the landscape.
A more common finding in Durham is the curb cut without a house attached. If you are looking for them, some are fairly obvious as a driveway-to-nowhere:
Others are more subtle, as when the old granite curbs have been filled in with concrete at the curb cuts:
Foundation or retaining wall remnants are another clue to an old buildings site - such as this mostly buried section of curtain wall on a wooded lot downtown.
or this piece of a failing retaining wall of a vacant lot downtown
|Plants and trees are another clue as to the location of ex-buildings. Bulbs, such as daffodils, are long lived and tend to come back each spring in the original planting patterns. Rose bushes on the edge of woods are a noticeable summer sign. |
Patterns of old trees surrounding a former building site, often with younger, smaller trees in the middle (at the site of the former building) are another clue.